Raw, adjective: 2. not having undergone processes of preparing, dressing, finishing, refining, or manufacture

Seriously cannot get enough of Sharon Salzberg these days.

I watched an interview with her a few weeks ago - a somewhat cringe-inducing mainstream piece that prefaced Salzberg's appearance with the image of hippie meditators chillin' in a room that "smells like feet" - and was struck by her lightness, her realism, and her down-to-earth persona. In the time since, her name keeps popping up here and there, and as I've been digging more deeply into her work, I am continually struck by the revelations therein.

This piece is no exception. Read it for a grounded understanding of what it's like to practice in a body, whether that's a seated meditation practice, a yoga practice, or even an artistic practice akin to music or dance. Here's an excerpt:
The process is one of continually trying to greet our experience, whatever it is, with mindfulness, lovingkindness, and compassion; it helps us to realize that everything changes constantly and to be okay with that. The effort we make in meditation is a willingness to be open, to come close to what we have avoided, to be patient with ourselves and others, and to let go of our preconceptions, our projections, and our tendency not to live fully. ...

My view of the matter was enlarged and my understanding transformed when I realized that mindfulness wasn’t inaccessible or remote; it was always right there with me. The moment I remembered it—the moment I noticed that I was forgetting to practice it—there it was! My mindfulness didn’t need to get better, or be as good as somebody else’s. It was already perfect. So is yours. But that truth is easily forgotten in the midst of our busy lives and complicated relationships. One reason we practice is to recall that truth, so that we can remember to be mindful more and more often throughout the day, and remember more naturally. Regular practice makes mindfulness a part of us.
I especially love her blurb on using ordinary moments of our lives as meditations. I find myself doing the same thing - finding glimpses of a meditation practice on the bus, at the grocery store, walking to work - and believe that many of us can find flashes of stillness and compassion throughout the course of the day, even if that doesn't look like half-lotus-style seated meditation in the midst of lives busy with child-raising and job-working and house-cleaning and the like:
You can access the forces of mindfulness and lovingkindness at any moment, without anyone knowing you’re doing it. You don’t have to walk excruciatingly slowly down the streets of a major metropolis, alarming everyone around you (in fact, please don’t); you can be aware in less obvious ways.

Rest your attention on your breath, or feel your feet against the ground—in a meeting, during a telephone conversation, walking the dog; doing so will help you be more aware of and sensitive to all that is happening around you. Throughout the day, take a moment to stop your headlong rush and torrent of doing to simply be—mindfully eating a meal, feeding a baby, or listening to the flow of sounds around you. Even in difficult situations, this pause can bring a sense of connection or of relief from obsessing about what you don’t have now or about what event or person might make you happy someday in the future.

Once when I was teaching a retreat, I had to go up and down a flight of stairs many times a day. I decided to make walking on that staircase part of my practice. Every time I went up or down, I paused first to remind myself to pay attention. It was useful, and it was fun. I’ve also resolved to do lovingkindness practice whenever I find myself waiting. Waiting on line in the grocery store. Sitting and waiting in a doctor’s office. Waiting for my turn to speak at a conference. And I count all forms of transportation as waiting (as in waiting to get to the next place or event), so on airplanes, subways, buses, in cars, and when walking down the street, I begin: May I be peaceful; may I be safe; may I be happy. Why not, in those “in-between” times, generate the force of lovingkindness? You’re likely to find that this weaving of meditation into everyday experience is a good way of bringing your meditation practice to life.
So good. Get in there.

Sticking With It (Tricycle)


mojotechno said…
I watched that interview too--she was radiant but the interviewer was like a 13 year old...hee-hee, meditation is WEIRD.

Here's a link to an interview with Seane Corne from On Being. I had never heard her before, only seen her glorious hair in Yoga Journal. She has a lot to say!

Rach said…
This is fantastic. Thanks so much!!

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